Roses and Razzberries – November 2019
ROSES to Satchel Smith, the lone employee on the job at the Homewood Suites off Interstate 10 in Beaumont, Texas, for his efforts during the flooding brought on by Tropical Storm Imelda earlier this year.
KHOU reports that the hotel was cut off from the outside world because of the flooding, which had shut down Interstate 10. Smith’s replacement for the night couldn’t even get to work, so he stayed on the clock for 32 hours straight, taking care of guests who – by the way – also pitched in to help him make breakfast and dinner for the other guests and folks from other nearby hotels who were also stranded.
During the height of the storm, they also worked together to bring water to truckers who were stranded along I-10. Talk about having your faith in humanity restored.
While we’re on the subject of that storm, we have to give out some more ROSES to everyone who helped with the numerous rescues we heard about during that time. That includes the folks who lowered a ladder from an overpass on I-45 to help a bunch of people who had gathered on a flatbed trailer below as the floodwaters rose around them.
It also includes a man who identified himself only as Nathan and who, according to local news reports, spotted a trucker who had driven into floodwaters on Route 59 near Houston and soon found himself in water up to his windshield. Nathan, who was on an overpass above the truck, grabbed a hammer and jumped on to the roof. He smashed through the truck’s window and pulled the driver out. The two were then lifted to safety by a Harris County Sheriff’s Department deputy and another man who had a rope.
Stuff like this reminds us of what Mr. Rogers said about times of crisis: “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” And as he was with so many other things in life, Mr. Rogers was spot on.
ROSES to Forbes Magazine and contributor Steve Banker for an opinion piece that ran earlier this year completely debunking the myth of the driver shortage. Banker cited repeated reports of the shortages from the American Trucking Associations, and countered those with a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that said that, while the market for truck drivers is tight and competition is high, what’s happening is more a problem of turnover than of a shortage.
Hmm. Where have we heard that before? Banker goes on to say that the media as an industry has been “too willing to accept the research of a self-interested body as credible. We should have known better.” Yes, Mr. Banker, the mainstream media should have. Here’s hoping they’ll learn.
RAZZBERRIES to shady towing companies. We know there are a lot of good ones out there, but a recent story about a trucker who was stranded on the road for more than 10 hours waiting for a towing company that never showed really got our blood boiling. And did we mention the driver had paid this company in advance? And when OOIDA’s Business Services Department tried to track the company down, they got the runaround so bad they ended up being given a phone number that turned out to be for a rental car company.
Truck drivers have more than enough problems out there on the road without having to worry about being taken advantage of like this. This is precisely why OOIDA has been working to get more support for towing protections in states around the country.
RAZZBERRIES to former Pilot Flying J president Mark Hazelwood for having the gall to seek a new trial and a new judge. Hazelwood, you may recall, was sentenced to prison for his role in a fraud scheme that bilked truckers out of discounts on their fuel cards. As if that wasn’t bad enough, part of his trial included recordings of Hazelwood using vile, racist and sexist language during a meeting with other PFJ executives.
Earlier this year, Hazelwood and his attorney filed a brief arguing that the recordings shouldn’t have been admitted because they prejudiced the jury against Hazelwood. Hey, if anyone knows about prejudice, we guess it would be this guy. And while we’re sure the tapes didn’t help, we’re even more sure it was the fact that he ripped off hundreds of truckers that turned the jury against him. LL